Man’s Spiritual Nature as Revealed by Christian Science

 

Margaret Murney Glenn, C.S.B., of Boston, Massachusetts

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

A question of vital import to us all is, What constitutes our nature, our substance, our being? In other words, What is man? Natural science explains man as a wholly material creation; medicine treats him as a material body, with a mentality resident in the brain; theology believes him to be material and spiritual. The natural scientist is correct in believing that there must be a science to explain man's nature, but this science is the Science of Spirit, not of matter. The theologian is correct in maintaining that God created man in His image, but this image, in order to be a likeness, must be wholly spiritual, for God is Spirit, not flesh.

The Science of Christianity does not deprive the natural scientist of science, but gives him a higher concept of it. Neither does it rob the religionist of his belief that man is God's image, but it reveals man in the perfection of his spiritual being as that image. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: "Nature reflects man and art pencils him, but it remains for Science to reveal man to man" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 124); and the Psalmist indicated man's purely spiritual nature when he said, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" Let us consider the things of which God must be conscious, or mindful, and thus learn more of man's spiritual nature.

 

Man's Substance

What is man's substance, that God is mindful of it? If the answers of the physical sciences are correct then are we, of all creatures, most miserable, for according to their analyses a mortal man consists of matter-substance which is subject to discord, decay and disintegration. Can God really be mindful of a substance that is discordant, decadent, destructible, and can this unsubstantial, so-called substance constitute man, who is God's most noble creation? Assuredly not, and the Science of man, opposed to the so-called science of mortals, reveals man's substance as consisting of spiritual ideas, which are as immutable as their source, the one divine and infinite Spirit, God. Man's substance cannot be perceived by the material senses, for it is spiritual and mental. All there is humanly to you and me is our thinking. Remove a person's thinking and there is no longer human evidence of his existence.

Christian Science teaches that the qualities of love, joy, strength, harmony, honesty, and intelligence, that you and I manifest, constitute our substance. One often uses the expression, There is not much substance to what he says, or, He is a substantial sort of person, meaning not that he has a great deal of matter, but that his thinking is intelligent, honest, just, and loving. Let us see why these qualities are substantial. Honesty cannot be burned, drowned, nor destroyed by an accident, and this is true of every other quality or attribute of God, such as harmony, health, and love. These qualities do not originate in the brain, for a substance which is subject to discord, decay, and disintegration is incapable of producing its opposite, namely, substantial, immutable, harmonious ideas. Their origin is in the divine Mind. This Mind, being one, can know nothing unlike itself nor outside of itself, for it is infinite, and there is none else, as the Bible says. Mind's thoughts or ideas about itself constitute man, the only man of whom God is mindful. If the true man of God's creating were the man of dust, described in the second chapter of Genesis, or the man evolved by atomic force, think of what extremely ungodlike and unspiritual things God would be mindful. And it would follow that the more we knew of God the more we would have to know of such material theories. These theories pertain only to mortality, and as mortality is laid off these views will be laid off with it, for, as Paul says, "this mortal must put on immortality." The material theory of evolution is probably as logical as anything can be about the descent of mortal man, but its study cannot prove so uplifting, spiritualizing, health-giving, or purifying as the study of the perfect man, for this study requires that thought ascend to the real man's origin, to the most high God. Material evolution but shows that a mortal's concept of man is the exact opposite of God's idea, man. Only one of these concepts can actually be man. No one would be willing to aver that God's image and likeness was ever a material atom, dust, or an electron which had to evolve in order to become God's image, for God spake and it was done. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mrs. Eddy makes this clear contrast between the man of material evolution and the man of God's creating revealed by Christian Science. She says (p. 189): "The human mortal mind, by an inevitable perversion, makes all things start from the lowest instead of from the highest mortal thought. The reverse is the case with all the formations of the immortal divine Mind. They proceed from the divine source; and so, in tracing them, we constantly ascend in infinite being."

Even the most learned men do not claim to understand perfectly the origin, nature, and substance of a mortal. This mystery with regard to mortal life has led some to consider it a marvelous creation, and natural scientists, physicians, and others have continued to grope from one theory to another in the hope of finding the proper solution to the enigma of mortal existence, an existence which can no more be explained than can the statement that two times two are five. Just as this statement is a false concept of a mathematical truth, so mortal existence is a false concept of Life. Neither can be explained, for they are mistakes, and are therefore unscientific. Mystery can afford no satisfaction to the reasoning person, for it indicates either ignorance or superstition. One of the purposes of education is to dispel mystery. Geography, for example, dispels the mystery with regard to the shape of the earth, its rotations and revolutions, which seem to the physical senses the opposite of that which they really are. In accepting these correct explanations we have to deny the physical sense testimony which claims that we see a flat earth, and the sun going around it. Surely, if we are willing to deny this evidence with regard to the earth, we cannot hesitate to deny the physical sense testimony with regard to man, and to see him with our intelligence instead of with our material eyes, particularly as this scientific seeing restores to us our health, happiness, and purity. Christian Science dispels all mystery with regard to God and man, and it shows that we must understand, know, and love the man of whom God is mindful.

If we are not to know God and man, in other words, if we are not to have a science revealing the truth about them, then Jesus' work was in vain, for he said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." And then he defines life in these words, – "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Jesus came, then, not to mystify us, but that we might have a more abundant knowledge of God and true man, whom he represented, and that we might know God and man as he knew them. This true knowledge he declared to be life eternal.

 

Man Manifests Life

God, as the Creator of man and the universe, is Life, and the image and likeness of God manifests Life through living, not through being sick, sinful, or dying, for like produces like. How, then, can we inquire of disease, which produces death, of hate, which produces destruction, or of the material senses, which know not God, as to the nature of man? The following Biblical injunction gives a scientific rule for discovering the true character of man and the universe: "Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it." This verse clearly states that God is the Maker, or Life of man and the universe, and that all correct or scientific knowledge about man is to be sought at the divine source, of Mind not of matter, of good not of evil, of Spirit not of the flesh.

Sometimes the statement is made, "I am tired of life." If the one making this remark were to realize that God is the Life of man, and that Life manifests itself in joyous, free, healthy, loving thinking, whereas sorrowful, limited, diseased, hateful suggestions are death, – were he to realize this he would probably alter his statement and say: "I am tired of death. I will change my thinking and live."

The evidence of Life which each one has within himself is the fact that he is conscious – conscious of spiritual activity, of honesty, joy, and intelligence. Paul recognized that life is wholly a mental and spiritual state when he said, "To be spiritually minded is life." Life is made manifest by thought, not by things. All the organs of the body may be perfect, but without thought to animate it the body would be considered lifeless. The more correct and spiritual the thought the more immortality or life it manifests. Spiritual thinking, then, is life, and Jesus proved this to be the case when by spiritual thinking alone he destroyed disease, reformed the thinking of the sinner, and raised the dead. Had Jesus believed that sin possessed life he would have been unable to destroy it, for Life, God, is indestructible; had he supposed that disease had any being he could not have cured it; had he thought that death had presence or existence he would never have raised the dead. The fact that he knew Life to be good, and man to be Life's expression, gave him dominion over the seeming activity of the carnal mind, which the Bible states is death. The only reason we seem to fear evil is because we believe it to exist, to have life, being, activity, and presence, whereas evil is the belief of the absence of Life, or good, – a negative state. Evil has no power with which to resist good, for a negative state has no resistance. Darkness cannot resist light, hatred cannot resist love. Life alone is resistless.

 

God the Mind of Man

Whatever we may seem to experience of sickness, sorrow, fear, or limitation is cognized by thought only, for unconscious matter cannot know or feel anything. Obviously, unthinking matter can of itself do nothing. If a person eats something which tastes good, it is thought which informs him of this fact. So, it is not the food but his thought about it which he is enjoying. Someone else may eat the same food and think it is not good. One person may love the mountains, whereas another may find them depressing and enjoy the sea much more. It is neither the mountains nor the sea, but their thoughts of these things which they are liking or disliking. It is thinking which gives us pleasure or pain, joy or sorrow, and we often use the phrases, I enjoyed myself, or, I burned myself, or, I hurt myself, little realizing that we are stating, My thought gave me joy, my thought hurt me, my thought burned me. The material body of a mortal simply objectifies the thinking of its owner. If deceit, hatred, discouragement, envy, fear, find an abiding place in mortal consciousness, this unpleasant and uncomfortable thinking will be objectified in an uncomfortable and unhealthy bodily state. In fact, the material body may be likened to a barometer which measures to what extent our mental atmosphere is governed by Love or fear, by Spirit or matter, by good or evil.

The man of material evolution has one thing of which he is most proud and that is a personal mind of his own with which he can think both good and evil, clarity and confusion, confidence and fear, honesty and dishonesty. He is, in other words, double-minded, for of course both sweet and bitter waters cannot flow from the same source. "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways," writes James in his epistle, and Mrs. Eddy states (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 198), "All suffering is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of both good and evil; of adherence to the 'double-minded' senses."

This personal mind of a mortal supposed to be in his brain involves him in a great deal of trouble, for it does not always think as he wants it to think. When he would like to be most calm and collected this mind claims that he is excited and confused. When he wants to be most intelligent and courageous, this brain says that he is full of fear and acts stupidly. When he wants to be healthy and pure this belief of a mind suggests that he is suffering and sinful. Aside from this difficulty each mortal is supposed to have a separate and different mind so no one person can exactly understand what another thinks, and this leads to confusion, misunderstanding, and dissension. We have been educated to trust this double-minded mortal and to believe that man consists only of the things which are cognized by the " 'double-minded' senses." In fact, we are inclined to doubt the reality of the spiritual man because we cannot see him with our material eyes and feel him with our material hands. But we can see him with that Mind which was in Christ Jesus, and, my friends, that Mind is man's Mind, for it is in reality the only Mind, or God. This one infinite Mind is the only creator and its creation is good. It never created a double-minded mortal, for the manifestation or creation of one Mind is oneness, not double-mindedness.

This Mind sees all things as they are, for it is Truth, and all things are the thoughts of this Mind and are good, loving, pure, and harmonious. Any so-called thoughts which may seem to emanate from the mind of a mortal and to be both good and evil are mere suggestion – the suggestion that there is more than one Mind, one God.

The only way to be saved from the double-mindedness of mortals is to claim that Mind which is God as our Mind. This may sound new to some of you, but just try sometime, if you will, to think the thoughts of this perfect Mind, which are intelligent, loving, noble, pure. See man as God sees him, as healthy, joyous, free, Godlike. You will find you are entertaining angels unawares – and these angel thoughts will deliver you from the sickness, sin, unhappiness, and mutability of the " 'double-minded' senses." In reality man, who is God's image, is continually expressing the activities of the divine Mind. These activities are counterfeited by the human mind through what we call business, politics, law, art, and society.

 

Love's Activities Manifested by Man

Business is probably the most worshiped and most dreaded of all human activities. A mortal is apt to judge his success, his supply, his position in the world by the condition of his business. If business is to be of benefit to the community, if it is to be a joy to the business man or woman, the human concept of it, as governed by fear, fluctuation, material conditions, dishonesty, or greed, must be exchanged for the true idea of its place in the economy of God's universe, as governed by intelligence, Love, good, Truth, honesty, by unfluctuating Principle. The Bible gives in three words a concise and profound rule for all business success. It is this, "Love never faileth." It is Love's nature to serve, to give, to understand, to make happy. Could any business man or woman, actuated by such loving motives, fail to be successful? Of course not. Love never deceives, never advertises falsely, never attempts to impose unsuitable merchandise on unwilling customers, never overcharges, never undersells in order to force another out of business. Would not any business governed by such loving honesty thrive? It would.

Love never fears failure, lack, the disapproval of superiors, the dissension of employees, never fears to do the right thing, to admit a mistake as wrong, to be morally courageous. Could an organization manifesting such fearless love in its operation be discordant or unsuccessful? Impossible.

Love never fails to attract the worthy to its activities, to trust God to guide and govern, never fails to be generous, to be gentle, thoughtful, kind – in other words, it never fails to be loving. To let Love successfully govern the individual consciousness, business, or home, is to be the most successful man or woman in the world, and if we are doing this we are engaged in our Father's business. Failure is as impossible to man as to God. It is not possible for man, as God's image or reflection, to do something of which God is incapable. God's man can no more fail to manifest Love than God can fail to be Love. An unsuccessful God is unthinkable and impossible. Success is as much a part of man's experience as it is of God's nature.

Christian Science proves that supply is of God, divine Love, and that no man is ever without it, for he would be an imperfect, discordant, creation were this the case. But this is impossible, for God's creation is ever harmonious, for God could not create a limited, discordant creation to express His own glorious, infinite Being. God has all good to give and He gives all good to His beloved creation, man. Just as many physicians admit that fear is often the procuring cause of disease, so business men are beginning to recognize fear as the cause of lack. One of the most eminent and successful business men in the United States has written, "The elimination of fear is the bringing in of security and supply." (My Life and Work, p. 221, by Henry Ford) Here again the Bible gives the rule for the elimination of fear in the words, "Perfect love casteth out fear." As long as mankind believes that there is something to fear, it cannot eliminate fear. Christian Science reveals God, divine Love, as the only reality and ever-presence, and man as the reflection of this divine Love. This revelation alone can completely free us from all fear. Even humanly, when in the presence of those who love us, and we realize that we are beloved and understood, we experience no fear, no doubt, no suspicion, but we feel the possibility of achieving our highest hopes and aims. If this is true of human love, how much more is it true of divine Love. Supported by infinite Love, approved of God, maintained by His omnipotence, man is capable of accomplishing all good. He has nothing to fear in the infinitude of Love.

But the question may arise, How do we know that God is Love? The only way we know anything or anybody is through that which expresses the person or thing. We know a rose by the fragrance, beauty, form, color, grace, and delicacy which express it. The fact that man expresses Love is evidence that God is Love, for no one believes man to be the source and creator of Love. All that is required of us is that we become conscious of Love's presence. A person may be walking in a rose-filled garden, but if his thought is on something else he may be wholly unconscious of the fragrance and beauty surrounding him. So it is with us: we are in reality in the presence of divine Love's loving, and Christian Science awakens us to this reality. Are you dreaming that you are hated or misunderstood? If so, Christian Science will waken you to the fact that God and His image, man, are loving you tenderly, steadfastly, joyously. Do not think you have to go somewhere or be something else in order to know and feel love. You are in Love's garden now, and it is impossible to be conscious of the absence of Love, for the truth is that God, divine Love, is omnipresent.

 

God's Will to Man

The highest ideal, or idea, of God was expressed by Jesus. His ideal, or idea, of God's will should be our ideal. He said, "This is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing." Jesus' idea, or ideal, of God's will to man, then, was that man should not lose holiness, health, affluence, dominion, love, or life itself. Every word and deed of his proved this ideal to be correct and practical. When a woman who had been suffering for years, and who had been to many doctors, appealed to Jesus for aid, he did not reply, as do some today, "The doctors can do nothing for you, so it must be God's will that you suffer," but he restored her health to her, proving that God would not permit her to lose the health which He had bestowed on her.

Jesus' idea, or ideal, of salvation was evidently to restore all good to man and thus doing he was fulfilling his Father's will, namely, that of all which God, good, had given man, nothing should be lost.

When Peter, in seemingly justifiable anger, cut off Malchus' ear, Jesus restored the ear, and what is more important, he restored to Peter the sense of love which he had seemingly lost. He restored to Mary Magdalene that which was hers, namely her ideal of holiness and purity given her by her Father. He restored to Jairus' daughter, to the widow's son, to Lazarus, and finally to his own consciousness the right idea, or ideal, of God as the indestructible Life of man.

Had all of these deeds been the result of human will-power belonging to the man Jesus, his example would have been of no benefit to us, for then we might agree that he had a personal ability which we could not possess, but he distinctly said that he had come to do the Father's will – our Father's will. The reason you and I exist is to do God's will, and His will to us is that we should lose nothing which He has given us, neither health, nor joy, nor strength, nor opportunity, nor abundance.

Here the query may present itself, How can I be saved from sorrow, sin, sickness, loss, lack, death? The Bible says: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Nowhere in the New Testament do we find a description of Jesus' appearance as to whether he was tall or short, dark or fair, the color of his eyes, hair, et cetera, but we do have an account of his thoughts, ideas, or ideals as expressed in his words and deeds. This passage cannot, therefore, mean that we shall be saved by believing in Jesus' personality, but by believing or understanding the ideas which he taught and proved to be health-giving, life-maintaining, loving ideals.

Christian Science comes today repeating Jesus' words, "The kingdom of God is within you." Within our thinking, our ideas, or ideals of good or of God, is the only heaven there ever will be for you and me, and as we always have our thoughts with us, it is possible always to have heaven with us.

 

Mary Baker Eddy

In order to judge others correctly we must have some comprehension of their motives. Mrs. Eddy gives as her life-motive the following (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 30): "The motive of my earliest labors has never changed. It was to relieve the sufferings of humanity by a sanitary system that should include all moral and religious reform." Could there be a more comprehensive or unselfish motive? It was never Mrs. Eddy's desire to thrust her personality forward or in any way to court personal adulation. In order, however, to understand Christian Science it is essential to have a proper appreciation of Mrs. Eddy's place as its Discoverer, Founder, and Leader. Just as we could never grasp the meaning and portent of the Lutheran religion without some understanding of the motives, aims, and place of Martin Luther, so we cannot apprehend the purpose and scope of the Christian Science movement without discerning the place and work of its Leader. Her own words about Paul might well be applied to this situation (Science and Health, p. 560): "To misunderstand Paul, was to be ignorant of the divine idea he taught."

It is quite natural that the way to relieve the sufferings of humanity should have come through a woman's discovery.  Dr. Frank Crane, whose articles were formerly published throughout the United States, once wrote, "A doctor often occupies the place of a mother, and all that is the matter with many sick people is that they need mothering." Mrs. Eddy not only perceived humanity's need for mother-love, but she recognized God as the giver of every good and perfect gift and therefore as the source of all true mother-love. And why is it that we need this particular quality of love at this time? Because we are engaged in a warfare against the false, limited, unhappy, sick, sinful, material concept of man; and the mother-love qualities, such as intuition, understanding, tenderness, courage, purity, constancy, protection, and unselfishness are requisite to win this battle. The whole world needs this love to quiet its fears, to comfort its sorrows, and to cleanse its sins. It is generally admitted that we are the children of God, but we are not claiming our full inheritance when we designate God as Father only. Unless man's parentage, his Father and Mother, are God he cannot be a wholly spiritual creation. The Bible states that man is the image and likeness of the divine Us or God, for does it not say: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," and is not this "us" our Father and our Mother God? So is it not logical for God's Fatherhood to be imaged forth by manhood and for God's Motherhood to be expressed by womanhood? We all know how human mother-love will hold to the loving and lovely concept of its child, even when that child seems to have gone astray. When I was a young girl I had an experience which illustrated this fact, that mother-love holds to the lovely concept of its child, no matter what that child may seem to do. One day a letter came addressed to my sister and on the outside was the name of the writer. When I saw this name I was consumed with curiosity to know why this particular person was writing to my sister, and this curiosity was so great that my conscience was utterly silenced. I opened and read the letter and when I had finished I was about as satisfied as Eve must have been after eating her apple. I had just put the letter down when I heard the voice of my mother, who had come into the room behind me, asking if I had opened that letter. Instantly it came over me what I had done, how dishonorable, deceitful, and unworthy it was, and I was so filled with shame that it cost me quite a struggle finally to say yes; but I did so, awaiting the rebuke that I knew I deserved. At this point, however, something wonderful happened, for my mother simply said, "That was not like you." Only mother-love could have said that, only mother-love could have seen through that act and perceived that it was not like the character of its child.

What happened to me in that limited human experience is what is happening in an infinitely greater degree to all those who, when in trouble, turn to the love of our Mother, God, as revealed in Christian Science. When you go to a Christian Science practitioner, believing yourself to be burdened with sickness, with sin, with shame, and with sorrow, the practitioner will tell you in substance: "Why, this is not like you, for you are Godlike; it is in fact so unlike you, the noble, healthy, harmonious, pure creation of God, that it is not you at all. You are God's beloved child in whom He is well pleased, His image and likeness, therefore you are manifesting strength, goodness, freedom, joy, abundance, all the qualities of God." Little by little you will find yourself letting go of the false, sinful, self-condemning, and sick concept of yourself, and turning wholeheartedly to the arms of divine Love; and your human need, whether it be for love, companionship, happiness, health, supply, or comfort, will be met. It was the courage, compassion, purity, and tenderness of this divine Mother-Love which enabled Mrs. Eddy to found her Science on the sure basis of Jesus' command to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. This command can be obeyed only through the prayer of faith or understanding.

 

Effectual Prayer

Solomon's counsel to acknowledge God in all our ways is disregarded when we do not acknowledge Him as the only physician who healeth all our diseases. The Lord's Prayer expresses comprehensively the fact that God is available for every human need. To the Christian Scientist the Lord's Prayer is not a petition to God to be our Father but an acknowledgment of the fact that He is our Father and our Mother, that His kingdom is come, that His good and loving will is done, that He supplies, forgives, and delivers from sin, disease, and death. All of you here know the Lord's Prayer, so test sometime, if you will, its healing and saving power by affirming its statements instead of pleading with God to make them come to pass.

The Lord's Prayer in its opening words "Our Father" reveals man's spiritual origin and nature. Jesus proved the truth contained in these two words "our Father," for he exemplified the pure, spiritual, immutable nature of man as the son, reflection, or idea of our Father, God. Jesus also made clear to us the compassion of our divine Mother, Love – not by sympathy with, but by the destruction of all that would make man sick, sinful, or sorrowful. He bade the widow "Weep not" before he raised her son. After he had healed her grief he restored the young man to his mother.

So today the Science of Christ, of the perfect man, bids us weep not over the temporal and painful nature of a mortal. With true compassion it restores us to that divine Mother-Love which holds its child forever as an idea of Life, as the indestructible, spiritual man, of whom God is ever mindful.

 

"O Love, our Mother, ever near,

To Thee we turn from doubt and fear!

In perfect peace our thoughts abide;

Our hearts now in this truth confide:

Man is the child of God."

 

 

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